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    Telus TV heralds new age for phone company  
    Calgary Herald  
   

Bill Mah

 
    February 09, 2008  
   

You get your TV from cable?
And the phone company handles your phone calls? That's so 2005.

The already blurred lines separating cable and telephone companies faded to black this week with billboards and full-page newspaper ads heralding the arrival of digital TV from Telus.
The phone, and now TV company, first introduced television over phone lines in late 2005 in a few Edmonton neighbourhoods.
But it took "a lot of money" and years of digging up and beefing up its network of ADSL high-speed Internet lines before Telus could offer the service citywide.
"We've taken the original technology and put it on steroids, so we've now got enough capacity to bring telephone, computer and television over that same pair of wires coming into a consumer's home," Telus spokesman Jim Johannsson said. Much of the engineering, testing and planning was done in Edmonton.
"This technology is really pushing the limits of what you can do with copper cables. Now, we're absolutely determined to give consumers a choice."
Telus's Internet-protocol TV offers subscribers video on demand, call display pop-up on the TV screen when the phone rings and over 200 digital channels, packaged by themes like a basic lineup, sports, family and news. Monthly rates start at $22.
If you can't watch your favourite show, you can pick it up from a different time zone.
Subscribers get one or two set-top boxes, a receiver, a modem to connect wireless devices and a remote which also doubles as a mouse for limited web surfing on the TV.
Customers are limited to two TVs per household and high-definition service is not yet widely available.
Telus has launched the service in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver. The company isn't saying how many TV subscribers have signed up.
It's the latest raid on each other's traditional stronghold between the telecommunications company and cable TV companies, notably Shaw, which has been poaching Telus customers by offering voice-over-Internet home-phone service.
"It's an arms race and your readers are the beneficiaries," said Iain Grant, managing director of Seaboard Group, a telecommunications consulting firm.
"Right now, the advantage is to Telus," he said.
"This is the future of television. Cable is still delivering television the old-fashioned way. What Telus is doing is using Internet protocol and, theoretically, there's no maximum number of channels, whereas on your cable, it does run out of breath after a while.
"What Telus can do is offer quite a sophisticated smorgasbord. It all depends on how fast the ADSL connection is going to go."
Grant said Telus's limit of two televisions per home and its difficulty providing high definition, along with the cable companies' longer relationship with content providers, could hinder Telus TV.
As for whether Telus can convince enough viewers to switch, Grant said the change is nowhere near as dramatic as it was convincing people to pay for cable TV rather than getting it for free with an aerial on the roof.
Barry Newcombe switched from satellite TV to Telus last summer.
"I'm quite happy with it," he said.
"A dark cloud would roll over Camrose and I'd lose my (satellite) signal, but Telus TV, their service people and their tech support has been just exceptional."

 


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